“The solutions to the crises we face in the world at this time lie in ancient places and also new ones, in places we have not walked, as well as in ways of thinking and feeling we have almost forgotten. They lie in story and in science, in art and in experience, in the half-glimpsed movement of shadows at the edge of a clearing and in the stillness of nothing moving at all.” Dawn Adams, Ph.D., Founder and co-President, Tapestry Institute
Tapestry Institute weaves together people of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures, using the power inherent in different ways of knowing and learning to help more people relate to the world with a sense of deep reciprocity instead of entitlement. Founded by a Choctaw scientist and educator, we collaborate with scholars, educators, artists, healers, and Elders of many cultures. Some of the pages on this website are written for our Indigenous colleagues, and some of them for our non-Indigenous collaborators. They help Tapestry facilitate real dialogue that takes place within Indigenous space — because if the dialogue takes place anywhere else, Indigenous Knowledge cannot manifest. And that’s the whole point.
Indigenous Knowledge is important to Tapestry Institute’s non-Indigenous partners because they have come to understand it’s crucial to the survival of their children and grandchildren. To them, Tapestry is the place for engaging with Indigenous Knowledge in creative and powerful ways that can be applied to the most serious ecological problems humans have faced since the last Ice Age — problems that are accelerating at rates much faster than the environment changed back then. These people use the educational pages on Tapestry’s website to learn about Indigenous worldview so they can fully participate in our meetings and contribute their own knowledge, expertise, and resources to collaborative efforts that can help save the world.
Our Indigenous colleagues see what we do a little differently, and it’s not because we’re not alarmed about environmental issues. We are. Indigenous communities are some of the most vulnerable to the first impacts of climate change, especially in Arctic regions and on small Pacific islands. But most Indigenous people have known for a long time that Western culture isn’t sustainable, and climate change isn’t the only problem. Resource consumption has been unsustainable in Western culture for so long that it’s what impelled European colonization of our homelands hundreds of years ago. Indigenous people didn’t just realize this, nor did we learn about sustainability from ecologists. We have known sustainability as a natural law for as long as our people have walked the earth.
Indigenous people know that a real and redemptive understanding of sustainability doesn’t reside in recycling drives or energy balance equations. For things to change, more people have to develop a reciprocal relationship with the Land, one that is not found in Western culture but that Indigenous people have cherished and preserved for generations. And for Indigenous Knowledge to emerge from that relationship, people have to understand, use, and integrate different ways of knowing and learning. Research on the ways of knowing, and how they are most effectively applied, is the core of Tapestry’s mission. They are part of everything we do.
Indigenous people are willing to share, though not to surrender our ways. We know we cannot change things alone. Many of our communities are already being uprooted by climate change, and a world running out of squandered resources increasingly eyes our remaining homelands with an eye towards their own immediate gratification rather than the world’s long-term survival. We need allies. We need minds and hands and strong hearts to join with ours.
This is the time, and we are the people. ALL of us. Together.
No matter who you are or how you work with us, there is information in these webpages that’s of use to you. Please check out new programs such as the IKhana Fund, our Occasional Papers — particularly “The Mythic Roots of Western Culture’s Alienation from Nature”, and the Circle that provides a key to understanding Indigenous worldview. The Past Projects summary can give you an idea of the scope of our more than 20 years of work on understanding different ways of knowing and learning, and using them to help people learn about the natural world and themselves so they can balance, center, and connect. The site map and search box on each page can help you locate the resources you need.